Wall is recognised throughout the world as one of the most innovative and influential artists of our time.His photographs have rewritten nearly every convention of photography and have played a decisive role in establishing photography as the major contemporary art form it is today.
The exhibition, titled JEFF WALL Photographs, features 27 major works produced between 1978 and 2010,ranging from illuminated colour transparencies in light boxes, black and white prints, and colour prints to intimate small-scale photographic observations.
Highlights include one of the artist’s early works, The Destroyed Room (1978), that refers directly to an old master painting titled The Death of Sardanapalus (1827) by Eugène Delacroix. Wall echoes Delacroix’s sweeping composition and sumptuous palette of blood reds, while acknowledging the work’s staged atmosphere by re-composing the scene as a roughly fabricated stage-set, absent of any players.
Other highlights include A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai) (1993) based on a woodcut from a famous portfolio, The Thirty-six Views of Fuji, by the Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). The work depicts a flat, open landscape in which four foreground figures are frozen as they respond to a sudden gust of wind.
Some of Wall’s more recent works such as Knife throw (2008) and Boy falls from tree (2010) are also featured. Wall’s photographs are based on first hand observations of everyday situations and incidents recalled, often reconstructed by means of what the artist calls a ‘cinematographic approach’ rather than the decisive moment of straight photography.
MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE said: “The MCA is thrilled to be bringing Jeff Wall’s works to Sydney. This is the latest in a long and productive collaboration with the Art Gallery of Western Australia and we are very much looking forward to seeing these powerful works in our new galleries.”
Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Gary Dufour, said: ‘Wall’s photographs are diverse, ambitious and embrace an expansive curiosity about photography and art. His photographs revitalise the picture-making possibilities of both media today.’
JEFF WALL Photographs is organised by the Art Gallery of Western Australia in association with the MCA. Curated by Gary Dufour, the exhibition is displayed in the Level 3 Galleries. The accompanying publication has been organised by the National Gallery of Victoria in association with The Art Gallery of Western Australia and features contributions from Gary Dufour, Isobel Crombie and Mark Bolland.
Jeff Wall was born in 1946 in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. His photographs are in the collections of Tate, MoMA, Centre Pompidou and numerous others. In the past decade, solo exhibitions have been presented in London, Basel, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dresden, Brussels, Vancouver and Kiev. Wall’s first major presentation in Australia was with works at the MCA in the 2000 Biennale of Sydney.
JEFF WALL Photographs
Museum of Contemporary Art – 140 George St, The Rocks Sydney
Exhibition continues to 28 July 2013
For more information, visit: www.mca.com.au for details
Image: Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room, 1978, transparency in light box, AP, 159.0 × 234.0 cm, collection of the artist